You’re running low on fuel and decide to stop and fill up your tank. When you pull up to the pump at the gas station, you’ll likely see three different grades of gasoline – regular unleaded, midgrade unleaded and premium unleaded.
Which grade do you select? Is regular unleaded best? Or is ponying up for premium gas going to make your car run better? Knowing which grade of gas to put in your car will go a long way in ensuring that you get optimal performance from your vehicle. Read on to learn about the different grades of gasoline and how to decide which is best for your engine.
A fuel’s octane rating is the number that you see prominently displayed with each grade of gasoline. The rating is a measure of how well the gasoline resists the knocking or pinging that can happen during the combustion process if the air-fuel mixture fires off early in your engine. A higher octane rating reduces the chance of the gas pre-igniting.
Recommended for a majority of the engines on the road, regular unleaded gas is typically the cheapest of the three grades. Through improved ingredients and technology, regular unleaded gas has seen advancements over the years to make it a great choice for most drivers.
Falling between regular and premium, midgrade gas may also be called plus or special. While few cars call for midgrade gas, switching to midgrade gas could help if you are experiencing engine knocking or pinging with regular unleaded gas. Though midgrade has a few more additives than regular gas, it’s typically hard to detect any appreciable increase in performance.
Costing anywhere from 30 cents to 60 cents more than regular unleaded, premium gas is required by some luxury and performance vehicle manufacturers. Cars with high-compression engines and turbochargers benefit from premium gas to help increase efficiency and performance. If your owner’s manual recommends premium gas (as opposed to requiring), the choice will be up to you if to fill your tank with premium or a lower grade.
What grade of fuel should I use?
Consult your owner’s manual to learn what type of fuel is recommended for your vehicle. The grade that the manufacturer specifies has been determined to give you the best results for performance and fuel economy.
My car uses regular gas; will using premium give me any extra benefit?
If your vehicle doesn’t call for the use of premium gas, using it won’t give you any additional benefits. Save your money - the extra cost won’t give you better gas mileage or enhanced performance. In fact, a study by AAA found that US drivers waste $2.1 billion annually on premium gas1. That’s a lot of clams!
What if I use regular gas when premium is required?
If you use regular unleaded gas when the manufacturer calls for premium, you run the risk of your engine knocking and running poorly. Over time, it could lead to engine damage and could even void your warranty.
Additional Sources: 1AAA Money Wasted on Premium Gasoline
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